Vatican City, Jan 23, 2014 / 17:17 pm
On the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See's founding, new Ambassador Ken Hackett lauded the many fruits borne from the relationship, expressing his hope to help bear more.
"The relationships that have grown between our government and the Holy See over that period have been phenomenal," Hackett told CNA Jan. 23 at a reception held in honor of the event.
"Look what happened in the collapse of the Berlin Wall, look at the collaboration on humanitarian assistance, issues like trafficking, and now under (Pope) Francis, the wider issues of peace," the ambassador said.
"So we're hoping that there will just be a growth, and more opportunity for collaboration and cooperation."
Originally agreed upon by President Ronald Reagan and Bl. Pope John Paul II on Jan. 10, 1984, the first U.S. Embassy to the Holy See opened on April 9, 1984 with William A. Wilson as its first ambassador.
In his remarks for the event, Ambassador Hackett highlighted that although an embassy has only existed for thirty years, the U.S.'s relationship with the Vatican have existed since the country's beginnings when Pope Pius VII named a young Jesuit, John Carroll, as "Superior to the Mission to the Thirteen States."
After the United States' first President, George Washington, agreed to having the Pope appoint bishops to the newborn nation, John Carroll became the first bishop ever appointed to the U.S.
Pointing to a panel-exhibit at the reception of photos and commentary detailing the history of their diplomatic relations, the ambassador said that the relationship between the U.S. and the Holy See has been "strong and positive."
"It is a story of engagement and cooperation over the last century on a wide range of important global issues."
The importance of this relationship, he noted, "was underscored recently by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the Vatican last week where he met with Archbishop Parolin," and Hackett said he expects it to be strengthened with the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama in March.
"My ideas, my whole life resonates in so many ways with Pope Francis and what he is saying," especially the pontiff's "concern for the poor and the marginalized, the excluded people," Ambassador Hackett said – adding that these are issues which are likely to come up during the March encounter between the Pope and the president.
"I think they will be," the ambassador affirmed, "knowing the president's concern about people who fall through the cracks."
"Migrants, and the homeless, and what we're discussing these days in the States, raising the minimum wage, I mean we have to do this, people are working forty, fifty hours a week and not able to feed their families," he explained.
Although the meeting will primarily be "a relationship opportunity, where President Obama and Pope Francis really get to connect on a very personal level," Ambassador Hackett called it "a special moment," and that "I'm sure it will mean an awful lot to President Obama."